“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure” – Sirach 6:14
Earlier this month, I hosted one of my college friends at the Jesuit Spiritual Center. We planned the visit in December, so I was very excited to reconnect with Emily and hear all about her experiences this past year.
After graduation, Emily moved to Arizona to serve as a Mission Corp for Maggie’s Place, a hospitality home which serves pregnant and parenting moms in need. Emily was a refuge for me as I navigated the transition to life in Milford because she understood well the challenges of ministering in a city far from friends and the familiarity of home.
During her visit, we spent our time singing and playing guitar by the Little Miami River, exploring downtown Milford, and sharing meals together. But most of all, I treasure the hours we spent sharing the grand and ordinary ways we encountered God in the past year.
Emily spoke about sacrificial love, the holiness of motherhood, and the grace that taught her God is present in suffering. My first reaction to her stories was awe of the incredible ways Emily has sought and found God in Arizona, but this consolation quickly shifted to comparison. I questioned, “Why didn’t God allow me to see that much glory in the past year? Had I really grown in my relationship with God at all throughout the past year?”
As I reflected on the past year, I thought about moments of self-doubt and challenges I faced in personal prayer and ministry. My doubts and disappointments often left me feeling unsure and confused about the future and where God is calling me in this life.
As our conversations continued; however, I began to realize that the growth I experienced while working as an Ignite intern this year was often gradual and difficult to recognize in the moment.
“The Lord has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Facing my fear of failure taught me the greatest lessons and helped me have the biggest breakthroughs in ministry. My failures as a minster and a community member inspired me to ask for forgiveness, accept my imperfections, then keep moving forward. Whether I fail or succeed, I never want to stop investing my time, energy, and heart in serving God and the people around me. I am beginning to realize that real growth and learning require an investment of self and a lot of patience.
When I am tempted to seek perfection or try to overcome my weaknesses overnight, I am reminded of a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. titled “Patient Trust.” His words remind me that in every season God is at constant work in my life.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
excerpted from Hearts on Fire